HOUSTON — KHOU 11 has confirmed the transfer of “India” the tiger to Houston police custody was facilitated by Linda McIngvale, wife of Houston businessman Jim “Mattress Mack” McIngvale, at Club Westside on Saturday.
Club Westside is formerly the Westside Tennis Club.
Mike Elliot, the criminal defense attorney representing accused killer and alleged tiger owner Victor Cuevas, said Linda McIngvale was “friends with the Cuevases” and organized the handover of the Bengal tiger to police.
Linda McIngvale said she knows Victor and Gia Cuevas through a former member, but she would not call them her “friends.”
On Sunday, Linda McIngvale released the following statement to KHOU 11:
“At Club Westside we are a licensed facility with exotic animals, and the Cuevas’ had visited as guests of a past member where we became acquainted. I was contacted by Jarred Mears, the animal enforcement manager for BARC with the City of Houston to see if I knew them and could possibly help with the safe return of the tiger. I was able to arrange, through the help of the Cuevas’ for the tiger to be located and anonymously delivered to us where BARC was on stand-by to receive. We are happy that the tiger is now safe and with the sanctuary and appreciate the Cuevas’ help in this matter.”
The McIngvales' Club Westside is a licensed facility with exotic animals, according to her statement. The club’s website and Instagram page show how members are able to have up close and personal experiences with the exotic wildlife on the property.
WATCH BELOW: Attorney Mike Elliott speaks to media after India was turned over to police.
India turned over to Houston police Saturday
India was turned over to Houston police on Saturday, nearly a week after being seen roaming around a west Houston neighborhood. HPD Commander Ron Borza said Saturday that a friend of the Cuevases contacted HPD with a tip about India's whereabouts.
Sunday was moving day
On Sunday morning, India headed to his new home in North Texas, the Cleveland Amory Black Beauty Ranch in Murchison, Texas, which is about three hours away from Houston. This is video of India's arrival to the animal sanctuary.
Noelle Almrud, the senior director of the Black Beauty Ranch, said India will go into quarantine for 30 days before being introduced into a half-acre naturally-wooded habitat with a pool and trees.
VIctor Cuevas remains in jail
As for Victor Cuevas, he remains behind bars with a $300,000 bond after his bond for a 2017 murder charge was revoked Friday.
Elliott still claims his client is not the owner. He maintains it's someone named DeAndre, but said Cuevas did spend a lot of time with the big cat.
Borza said he has no doubt the tiger belongs to Victor and Gia Cuevas.
"It is Victor's Tiger," said Borza Saturday. "I'm going with it's Victor's tiger. That's what I was told by her and she's the wife of Victor and she said they've had the tiger for about nine months. And it's nine months old."
Police said Gia isn't facing any charges right now, but the investigation is ongoing.
Tiger King star Carole Baskin joined the hunt for India. She offered a $5,000 reward to help find the big cat.
"I’m delighted that India is safe and hope authorities will reach out to the Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries at sanctuaryfederation.org for permanent placement," Baskin told KHOU 11.